Copyright Jim Widner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
18 Oct 1994
On September 30, 1962 a major milestone in radio drama came to an end with the final episode of the long running series, SUSPENSE. Ironically, the episode was titled "Devil Stone" and was the last dramatic radio play from a series that had its roots in the golden age of radio.
What began as a "new series frankly dedicated to your horrification and entertainment" took on a life of its own mostly due to the talents of some outstanding producers and adaptations and original stories from the cream of mystery writers of the time. The golden age of radio was truly the golden age of SUSPENSE as show after show broadcast outstanding plays which were "calculated to intrigue...stir [the] nerves."
It was the series' first producer, William Spier, who set the framework of rules that was to stay with the show for most of its run. Mr. Spier determined that the series should deal with life-and-death situations established near the beginning of each play and then through the use of Bernard Herrmann's musical coloring and the writer's characterizations slowly tighten the knot of SUSPENSE. Many of the early stories were written by the mystery writer, John Dickson Carr. Others were by such fine writers as Lucille Fletcher, whose SUSPENSE play, "Sorry, Wrong Number" was turned into a major motion picture; Robert Arthur, Robert L. Richards, Morton Fine and David Friedkin. The series also drew from the mystery writers of the day as well as the horror writers of literature; writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Cornell Woolrich, Dorthy L. Sayers and H.G. Wells.
Many of the stories produced by Mr. Spier are now classics of the genre. Listen to the likes of "The House in Cypress Canyon" as a young couple encounters something in the closet of their new home, something horrible and dangerous; or "The Hitchhiker" in which a man driving cross-country seems to be haunted by an ominous figure, who keeps reappearing trying to get a ride. But what foreboding does the hitchhiker hold for the driver?
Another rule William Spier established was to make the series a place to hear the talents of Hollywood's famous actors. There rarely was a famous actor who did not appear on the series at some time. Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Lucille Ball, Olivia De Havilland and many others all made at least one appearance. The series had a generous budget from its network, CBS.
In 1948 the series had become popular enough that it was decided to broadcast for a complete hour, instead of the former thirty minutes. The actor Robert Montgomery was brought in to introduce the plays, replacing the "Man in Black" character and occasionally star in them. This format lasted only six months most probably due to the realization that the show worked best within a thirty minute framework.
It was at this time that William Spier left and over the years others came to produce the shows, each setting his own unique mark. Anton M. Leader, who came from producing another horror radio program, MURDER AT MIDNIGHT, added some lighter SUSPENSE stories which focused more on the central characters. Jimmy Stewart appeared in an excellent story about a paralysed war veteran who thinks he has found the man who imprisoned and tortured him. Fibber McGee & Molly appeared in a tale about a killer on the loose in "Backseat Driver."
Probably the biggest change in SUSPENSE came under the producing eye of Elliott Lewis. Lewis brought in comic actors to play serious roles. Actors such as Jack Benny, Red Skelton and Ozzie Nelson. He also was not afraid to experiment using the series slot for classic "murder" stories such as "Othello."
The series continued to produce high-quality drama, though there were many repeats as well as borrowing of scripts from other radio shows. While a number of film actors continued to star occasionally, many of the stars were from radio and television since radio as a dramatic art form was beginning to lose its popularity and budgets were tightened.
The show was on the air for a little over twenty years beginning in January, 1942 and was rarely pre-empted. There were 947 performances. Nearly all (approximately 895) are available to collectors. When SUSPENSE left the air, radio was never to see the likes of such a series again. Now the great medium of radio where imagination can run free has been reduced to the occasional brilliant drama airing sporadically in some corner of the world. SUSPENSE was a golden moment in a golden age. A moment when the thrill of the nightime led the listener along the path of intrigue, horror and dangerous adventure.
Permission for use granted by Jim Widner
NOTE: Updated Release! Version 2.0. Now 36 CDs worth of Suspense! Additional versions of shows plus upgraded sound quality. (06-Dec-2012)
NOTE: Updated Release! Version 1.1. Minor changes only, and only in CD #01 -- all 28 other CDs are the same as in Version 1.0. Updates on CD #01 include an updated Acknowledgement file and a correction in the name of a Transcription Disk image. No MP3 file changes in this release. (22-Jun-2011)
OTRR Certification Information:
Series Name: Suspense
Certification Status: OTRR Certified Accurate
Certification Date: October 15, 2012
Certification Version: Version 2
Number of CDs: 36
From the Old Time Radio Researchers Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
OLD TIME RADIO RESEARCHERS GROUP
This is a production of the Old Time Radio Researchers Group located at Old Time Radio Researchers Website (www.otrr.org) and the Yahoo! Group Old Time Radio Researchers.
It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.
If you are interested in preserving Old Time Radio (OTR), you may wish to join the Old Time Radio Researchers Group at Yahoo.
Relax, listen, and enjoy!
OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that is Certified Accurate indicates that all the episodes are properly identified and labeled but that the series does not contain all known extant episodes.
OTRR Certified Complete -- A series that is Certified Complete is the highest level of certification available under the OTRR Certified Standards. This certification level implies that all the files in the series are Certified Accurate but also indicates that the series is as complete as possible – it includes all extant episodes.
OTRR Non-Certified -- A collection of shows that has not gone through the OTRR Certification process.
NOTE: There are no passwords for any of our ZIP files. If you are prompted for a password, before downloading the file again, try unzipping the file into a shorter full folder path name -- for example, unzip to "C:\" instead of "C:\Documents and Settings\your_Windows_ID\some_other_folder\". Sorry, some of our releases contain long folder and file names, which sometimes manifests itself on the Windows platform as prompting for a password for the ZIP file. Or try renaming the ZIP file itself to a shorter name before unzipping.
Subject: A Gold Mine
CBS put tons of money into Suspense. You can hear the difference between Suspense and cheaper productions simply by listening to the music. Suspense had an entire orchestra; cheap fly-by-nights had an (offensive) organ. You can imagine which was more costly.
The quality of the stories, the acting, and the overall production of these radio plays is absolutely outstanding. There are very few I've heard that would be better left out of an archive (though there truly are some, as in any collection.) Taken as a whole, Suspense had a higher level of quality than any production on television or radio before or since.
Its demise in 1962 left a hole that will never be filled.
Subject: Some upgrades and missing shows from 1943-1944
Subject: So great!
Subject: Hello, Magnoliasouth
If I had one wish here, it would be that when the OTRR releases a new version of a collection, they also release an 'upgrade' version for people who have already downloaded and burned the previous version. With smaller collections, it's not such a big deal, but I'm a little hesitant to download this 36-disc collection when I've already downloaded and burned the 29-disc Version 1. It would be nice to have another page with only the seven discs worth of new files. (Not a complaint, mind you, just a suggestion.)
Subject: Love this show!
I'll agree with others on the clarity of the sound. It is remarkable how clear it is. It is also remarkable how organized the files are and how complete the extras are.
This is definitely a great effort someone went to in sharing this information. Many MANY thanks to him or her!
* Download the zip file but BEFORE unzipping, rename it to a short name. I named mine as Suspense01v2, Suspense02v2, etc. I had no problems opening them that way.
* The first zip file is an "extras" file with no official episodes. It's still a fun file and has lots of interviews, photos and more. Better than what comes with DVDs these days, I'll tell you that!
* The second zip file contains the first set of episodes. They are in date order. The first actual episode (skipping The Lodger) is named as such:
Suspense 420617 001 The Burning Court (128-44) 28455 30m00s
To translate, it means....
Series title: Suspense
Air date: 420617 (Note: many don't understand this dating system, but it's very easy, it is YYMMDD. That provides a computer sorting order and is a great system. In any case, this episode would have been aired on June 17th, 1942.)
Episode number: 001
Episode title: The Burning Court
Bit rate - Kilohertz: (144 - 44) Though it's probably 44.1.
Original compilers unique numbering system: 28455 (since the compiler is part of a database team, this is probably an ID number for that database)
Length: 30 minutes, zero seconds.
Now it's important to note that the files will sort in proper order. All have the name suspense and all have the computer sort date style. This means they will sort in the order that they were aired.
* Remember that depending upon your connection, the zip files may take a very long time to download. Alternatively, if you click the [contents] link, you can see a list of files within that zip file. You can download individual episodes that way if you only want to download a few at a time.
Subject: Thanks For The Fine Work
Subject: Thank you!
On another note, the advertisements are just as entertaining as the episodes themselves. They do get annoying though as one user wrote if you listen to too many in a row.
Thank you for putting so much time into collating these episodes. I really can't thank you enough.
Subject: The "Golden Age of Radio" is not over.
Subject: fantastic show!
Subject: INCREDIBLE job, OTRR!
Subject: If money isn't an issue . . . .
I just bought the disks.
Subject: has anyone managed to download any of the pages?
Suspense is a great program, you just won't be able to download anything except the individual shows. If anyone has any ideas please post for all to see.
Subject: Killer programs.
Subject: Great series!!
Subject: Suspense Good Audio Quality
Can someone verify then that most of show done before the start of audio tape were done live or live to disc recording for air play?
Thanks, too, to Jim Widner for his outstanding Suspense background writeup! My email is "email@example.com."
Subject: re Suspense
If you like Suspense, you need to download these.
Subject: My (OUR) Thanks for your efforts
I love it.
Thank You Thank You and Thank You
You deserve a 6 Star for sure
Subject: Thank God for the OTRRG
Subject: Thanks for this Excellent series
We radio fans owe a debt of gratitude to all who made this wonderful collection possible.
In content and presentation, this is a joyous, rich delight that will last through the years.
Subject: Suspense is excellent!
Subject: Eagerly anticipated!
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